On December 29, my classmate Eduardo and his beautiful bride Kendra were married in a perfectly unplanned ceremony at Þingvellir. Þingvellir is a dramatic rift on one side of the valley sitting on the divide between the European and American continental plates. It’s also the site of the medieval Alþingi, the parliament of the great Icelandic chieftains of old. The day was perfect. It was windless, there was a fresh layer of snow, and the sun was shining (well, more like glowing) the whole time (more pictures from that day here). Kendra and Eduardo were were married by the Sheriff of Selfoss (who happens to be the biggest fan of The Rolling Stones in all of Iceland) on the Lögberg (Lawrock), where the Lawspeaker would recite the laws at every meeting of the Alþingi.
The two met as training opponents….MMA training opponents. Not your typical rom-com meet-cute. As Eduardo says, they went from rivals to friends to lovers. For the last few months they have been on other sides of the world: he moved to Iceland to study, and she moved to rural Japan to teach English. The original plan was to wait till he finished his program to marry, but they decided part-way through the semester to tie the knot when she came to Iceland for four weeks at Christmastime. They didn’t tell anyone but their family and bridal party (the ones left back at home in New York) until after the wedding.
The “guests” at this wonderfully simple wedding were 15-20 of us from the grad program, several significant others (it’s been a romantic holiday season for foreign graduate medievalists at the University of Iceland- three engagements and a wedding), and one of our professors. We didn’t really know until the week before exactly when it would happen. It wasn’t so unplanned that it could be described as spontaneous, but you might say that this wedding was all about two people in love who wanted to be married and didn’t mind forgoing the usual “wedding process” to make it happen. After a quick ceremony, they each gave a prepared little speech. Kendra learned hers in Spanish to surprise Eduardo, and he gave a really touching account of the moment he decided that having her as his girlfriend was worth the risk that might lose her as a best friend if he asked her out. Then, like most couples, they celebrated by a commemorative fight on the site of a medieval parliament.
I’m certainly not a romantic, but I most certainly cried during the ceremony. It is easy to see that Eduardo and Kendra have a genuine love for each other that is rooted in friendship and respect. I have no doubt that they will stay madly in love for the rest of their lives and have adventures aplenty to rival their unconventional wedding. To the newlyweds: thanks for letting me be a part of your special day and best wishes for your new life together.